CHICAGO -- Give James Shields credit for at least part of his five-inning performance during a 10-9 White Sox victory over the Tigers in 12 innings Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
After allowing six runs in the first two innings, seemingly and sadly picking up where he left off in his dreadful debut for the South Siders, the veteran right-hander gave up one unearned run over his final three innings. Those shutdown frames included pitching out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the fourth, marking his first scoreless frame since the fifth inning of a contest against the Giants on May 25 and ending a stretch of 10 straight innings in which he was charged with a run.
His bounceback on the mound played a part in the White Sox largest comeback since 2002.
"It's not the start that I wanted, but coming out on top is good," said Shields, who finished with six earned runs allowed on nine hits over five innings and 106 pitches, walking four and striking out one. "Overall I think I was pounding the strike zone, using my fastball a little bit more at the end of the game."
"Right now it seems like he may not be commanding the zone as well as he'd like," said White Sox bench coach Rick Renteria, who took over managerial duties from Robin Ventura after he was ejected in the seventh inning. "He's falling behind and ends up having to come a little bit more center cut, and they're taking advantage of it. Even through all of that he gave us five innings. I know his pitch count got up there. He continued to grind, try to get through it."
This rough patch for Shields has covered three straight starts, during which he has allowed 23 earned runs on 25 hits over 9 2/3 innings, while walking 10 and striking out four. He had a 3.06 ERA over 10 previous starts for the Padres, so something appears to recently have gone out of whack.
"I guess surprised would be the word, but honestly, I just have to continue to work and get better," Shields said. "I'm going through a little stretch the last three games, but I feel like those last three innings I have to build off and continue to grow."
"He's a competitor and he's going to continue to look for ways to try and make it work," Renteria said. "I'm sure he and [White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper] will continue to sit down and try to figure it out."
Shields smiled when asked if this team win was good for his psyche; he has struggled before and knows how to handle the tough times. But the White Sox fight on this night reinforced Shields' belief from Day 1 that they have a special crew.
"I've only been here for about a week now, and I can see the fire in this group and I see something special in this group," Shields said. "We are going to take tonight's game and run with it. We learned a lot from tonight."